I need a new study plan!


Can't sleep I wish I would stop thinking about the NCLEX-RN for a day or two or three.

I'm going to take the week off from picking up a book. Then I'm going to jump back in.

How do I study now. I don't know how to study after failing. I feel Saunders helps as far as content but the questions are nothing like NCLEX was.

Any advise?!

thanks, all


288 Posts

I have several friends that took the NCLEX last year and several that took it this year and all of them have said that Saunders is a great book for nursing school but not such a good book for NCLEX prep. I think it is for the very reason you stated, their questions are great when you are trying to learn content but the difficulty level is not up to par with the nclex. Do you know how long it will take for you to get the report back from Pearson Vue on what your weak areas were?

I think it sounds like a good idea to take a break for a week. Maybe start off with a test strategy book and read it from front to back while you are waiting for the exam report to come to you. Try to think back to the week before the test and where your head was at. Did you get enough sleep before the test? Do you think that maybe your anxiety just got the best of you? I remember one exam in school I was really prepared for but I had so much on my mind the night before the test that I just could not fall asleep, I got maybe 3 hours of sleep. I went in to the exam wired, I didn't feel tired really and I felt good about the exam all the way until I walked out the door so boy was it a shock when I got home and found out I failed it. Being so wired prevented me from thoroughly reading the questions and I made a lot of dumb mistakes. My point is, maybe you did know your stuff but just had too much anxiety? If that was what happened then you should focus on stress reduction techniques along with your review.

The best advice I can think of is to try and brush yourself off and move on, you can only do what you can do (I know, easier said than done). Nobody likes to fail, but you cannot let this get the best of you, you can not let the pressure and anxiety take over because it will prevent you from succeeding. You need to remember that you can do this!! Keep the content fresh in your mind and maybe even schedule your exam for the soonest date you are allowed (is it 45days?) so the information will be as fresh as possible.

Is there anyone at your school that you were close to and could talk to for some advice?

Good Luck!


193 Posts

If I might offer advice, I'd say put Saunders away... it just doesn't come close to NCLEX. If you used it to study, you probably have mastered all of the content it can offer you, so it's time to move on. Have you tried Kaplan? I was doing rotten on their questions, because I was using Saunders and just didn't get how to TAKE THE TEST... it seems to be a game all in itself, and Kaplan seems to somehow have gotten the tricks, at least if you believe their stats. I know that I understand the strategies much better myself now.

In any case, switch it up... pick a different strategy completely, so you don't find yourself making the same mistakes.

Good luck!


462 Posts

Has 6 years experience.

I would love to do Kaplan or Hurst but I just can't afford to do anything. I have no choice but to study on my own.

I have no one to borrow the money from nor anyone in my family that would offer to pay.

I really just makes no sense to me why some things are so expensive, I mean jeez we spent a fortune already to go through nursing school... can't someone give students a little break.

The way I see it, if one system would charge a lot less and was accurate in their material they would get more students paying for their services. Hence, they will still be making money.

But nope, everyone's out to make a buck these days.

Leonardo Del Toro, RN

3 Articles; 730 Posts

Specializes in "Wound care - geriatric care. Has 13 years experience.

This may help. Remember, there are no simple solutions but everything counts.

I wrote this thinking of those who are struggling and have taken the test more than twice but it could be useful for first time takers. This post reflects my experience with the NCLEX and the changes I did in order to pass. The NCLEX is a passable test and perhaps not even as hard as most people think. I like to point out aspects which are not well explained or easy to miss for some people. We all hear stories about students who are so smart and have failed, so there must be something these students are missing in common, so read on carefully and you might find the key to set yourself free.

In the NCLEX world there are a few important components: knowledge and how you apply that knowledge quickly are the two main ones. Another major component is how to take the test. I think that for those who are struggling is very important to start re-thinking the test in a brand new way; to understand what is being asked of you and realize that what you have been trained to do during your school years with traditional tests is basically useless. There are a few items I like to go in detail and it might be helpful to understand them well. It might set you free from the deceptions and traps of the NCLEX which ultimately reflect the nursing practice. If you are trying really hard and still not passing, it’s time to do a whole evaluation and change the way you think about the test, so read on and have fun.

1)TIMING: as they say, timing is everything. This might be one of the most misunderstood components of the NCLEX. The bottom line is: you must walk in the test room and even if you are completely clueless DON’T TAKE MORE THAN ONE MINUTE FOR EACH QUESTION, I cannot stress this enough. All the knowledge you have acquire is useless unless you can answer the questions fast and (hopefully) correctly; and remember that the NCLEX will not punish you for getting wrong answers, you only need to be at the knowledge level they are looking for. I am not sure about this but I now believe there is an algorithm which measures the time you use for each question crediting or discrediting you. The NCLEX really likes when you go fast. And that makes sense for nursing where emergency situations come up and you know little about them and only have a minute or so to make a decision. So when they say “don’t over think”, is more like you don’t have the time to – “over think”. Have you ever noticed how some questions keep coming back? Even though you might have answered them correctly but took too long, they (the NCLEX computer program) is not sure that you really know it well or just guessed. So if the questions keep coming back two things can happen: you get too tired which is not good because your performance suffers or, run out of time which is another problem that can cause you to fail. They want you to look at the questions, read it carefully, make a decision select, and move on. You must have the ability to answer the questions like you playing ping-pong game and be able to play a long game and not get tired. I know it sound a little fuzzy and fluffy but you have nothing to lose at this point; do you? Another timing issue is how long you delay to re take the test. Don’t. You are never ready for it; put that in your mind. If you take too long between the tests you get cold, so use your failure as a practicing match and go take it again while you still hot. So go to PearsonVue website and schedule that test right now and go face the beast!

2)YOUR KNOWLEDGE: of course the more you know about nursing the better, but not really. All you have to have is “NCLEX type knowledge” and that you can get by using the so many books available and listed by other posts in this site, Kaplan book/course, is a good source of that as well. Here’s an example of NCLEX type knowledge: when they ask about chest tube, they might want to know a, b, or c (about chest tubes) and usually it does not stray too far from a certain number of options: know these options by heart. These are the building blocks NCLEX is made of and you must know it well enough to retrieve it from you mind on a heart-beat. The more you have these building blocks in your mind the better because it will help you to answer fast and correctly without thinking too much and getting tired. So the way to look at knowledge is not in the traditional way of really knowing it but using your NCLEX knowledge to play the NCLEX game.

3)STUDY TIME: don’t drive yourself crazy. I would practice 60 questions per day in one hour. Buy a timer and keep the pace, don’t ever take more than one hour. If you are getting above 65% in one hour you looking good but try to get higher. One day per week go all the way to 265 (ouch!) because most likely this is what your test will be like! So in essence you are building up endurance with that kind of knowledge rather than becoming a nursing genius. Have fun with it, if you drive yourself to pain you will also learn pain so when you get to the test that’s what you will remember.

4)THE TEST: it’s important to know about this test and its components. One fact I think is interesting is that the NCLEX will test everyone differently. The NCLEX has two ways to make a decision about you: (1) you will pass or fail with an “X” number of questions, so if you are really good you can pass as little as 75 questions and if you are doing really bad you will fail with 75 questions. (2) but at a certain the computer makes a decision, it can’t figure you out, you have missed a bunch of questions but you’ve also hit some important ones, so it decides that you need to be tested in the whole gamut of questions, so you are going all the way to 265 baby (ouch again). However remember, if you are not consistent and begin to do poorly because you are tired you can fail too and not go all the way, or go all the way and fail too. So you must stay in the game and perform consistently. If you are struggling forget about that magical “oh a passed with 75 questions”, be prepared to go all the way and most importantly be consistent throughout the entire range and that’s why is so important to train yourself to endure long periods of time answering these type questions. The NCLEX will be really impressed with your consistency and you will be credited for that. Remember, the NCLEX is not about getting questions right and building up points like in regular tests, the NCLEX is testing how you perform under stressful situations and in certain ways your ability to improvise. I believe the algorithm of the computer program is very sophisticated and can measure everything you do.

5)TAKING THE TEST: you must understand what is critical thinking. Some people are there already, but if you are not for whatever reason you should begin to pay close attention to “what is to critically think”. You must focus on that question in a way you never did before, you must zero in to that question only and not stray one bit from it. I developed this way of thinking in which I would imagine myself there, at the hospital with a real situation at hand and then think “what would I do here…for real” and make that decision in terms of what would I do in order to be the safest. When you take the test you must be confident in your intuition. Another way to interpret when people say: “don’t over-think” is that your mind goes into this overdrive mode where decisions are made quickly and without thinking but they are the correct ones. It’s like playing a video game where you only have a split second to make decisions but as the rhythm speeds up your mind speeds up and you actually make better decisions than if you think it over. This is the kind of mind set you have to have when you take this test. In my opinion this is exactly what they are trying to test: your ability to quickly decide emergency situations. How many of those did you get right?

6)GUESSING: there is nothing wrong with guessing. You and everybody will guess about 10-20% of the test. The test is designed that way, otherwise you would know what to study for the test as you did in your nursing classes. So learn how to guess right, and in order to do it right you must be completely random and not go on a hunch. It is an irresistible impulse to guess following a hunch that you know something about the answer which makes you feel safe. The problem with that is that you might fall in the trap set up the writers. So first eliminate as many as wrong answers you can than guess RANDOMLY. One safe way to do that is to always pick the first one bellow the last question you have eliminated, if you have not eliminated any of them pick up C or any other but randomly.

7)PLAY TETRIS: and here’s why, Tetris is one of the first video games made for computers and in my opinion it simulates several of the brain functions required in for the NCLEX. It will help you with the brain stamina you need to endure all the 265 questions without lowering your performance. You have to make quick decisions in shorter and shorter amounts of time. It forces your brain to critically think faster and faster as the geometrical shapes fall down and you have to figure out where they fit. I was amazed to find out how much I improved as I started to play. If you don’t believe this is helpful, just play for fun and it will your mind from the study.



10 Posts


I beleive we are from the same school. I started with Saunders after rave reviews but struggled and sank in the mud with it. I switched to Exam cram and made it through the entire book. I checked out Kaplan from the local library and read it and did the test. I am working on Lacharity right now and although I miss about 1/3 to 1/2 depending on topic, I review the rationales and figure out why its correct and internet search concepts or terms while takinf the questions. It appears to sink in better.

I do beleive it is "all about how you take the test." All my study prep has been book version for I too am out of money.

Good luck and keep trying!